Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Triple Your Pleasure

The Yankees returned home last night, for a short 2-game Interleague series with the Cincinnati Reds. If it wasn't quite the 1939 World Series (the Yankees of DiMaggio, Bill Dickey, Ruffing and Gomez swept the Reds of Ernie Lombardi in 4 straight) or the 1961 World Series (the Yankees of Mantle, Maris, Berra and Ford beat the Reds of Frank Robinson in 5), it was certainly better than the 1976 World Series (the Yankees with Thurman Munson and Catfish Hunter, but not yet Reggie Jackson, got swept by the Big Red Machine of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan).

One of the weirdest plays in the 115-season history of the Yankees -- or even the 136-season history of the Reds -- happened last night. With the game scoreless in the bottom of the 2nd, Matt Holliday led off against Luis Castillo. As we've seen, National League players named Luis Castillo have some unpleasant (for them) history at the new Yankee Stadium.

But this was different. Holliday singled to right. Didi Gregorius singled to right. Chase Headley singled to left, but Holliday couldn't score. Bases loaded, nobody out. The Yankees should've gotten at least 2 runs home.

The batter was Todd Frazier. From Toms River, Ocean County, New Jersey, he was making his Pinstripes debut, having come to the Yankees in a trade while we were on the road. He got a nice hand.

Frazier hit a ground ball up the middle. Jose Peraza, the Reds' shortstop, got it, and stepped on 2nd base. That's 1 out. He threw to Joey Votto at 1st base to throw Frazier out. That's 2 outs. In the meantime, Holliday came home to score.

But Gregorius thought the ball might be caught, so he stayed close to 2nd. Maybe 99 times out of 100, that's the smart thing to do; maybe 999 times out of 1,000, it's at least the safe thing to do. But, seeing what was happening, he ran for 3rd base. Votto saw this, and threw across the diamond, and Gregorius was caught in a rundown. Eventually, he was called out for running wide of the baseline to avoid a tag. That's 3 outs.

A triple play. The 1st pulled by the Reds since 1995, the 1st against the Yankees since 2011. But since Holliday scored while the play was still in progress, and none of the outs concerned him, his run still counted.

"A strange play," said Captain Obvious, in his secret identity of Joe Girardi.
Not to be Captain Obvious myself, but, for any Met fans
who may be reading, this is not actually Joe Girardi.
This is Brandon Moynihan, the actor who plays
Captain Obvious in the Hotels.com TV commercials.

"Got to be a record," Frazier said. Not quite: It was the 1st run scored during a triple play since the Seattle Mariners did it against the Minnesota Twins in 2006.

This wasn't a case of, to paraphrase the old Doublemint gum slogan, "Triple your pleasure, triple your fun." But it did get the Yankees on the board. Cliche alert: That's baseball: You never know when you're going to see something you've never seen before.

A triple play, but we still score? Cliche alert, part 2: Whatever works.

So, anyway, one-nil to the Pinstripe Boys. Gregorius made up for his baserunning faux pas with a sacrifice fly in the 4th inning, to make it 2-0. An Austin Romine double brought home a run in the 5th, to make it 3-0.

Jordan Montgomery walked a batter in the 2nd inning, but kept a no-hitter going through 5. We were 12 outs away from having a no-hitter and a run-scoring triple play in the same game. Cliche alert, part 3: Baseball is a funny game.

In the 6th, Montgomery ran into trouble, allowing a leadoff double, and 2 grounders that each advanced the runner a base, to make it 3-1. Girardi kept him in through 7, and brought Dellin Betances in for the 8th.

Cliche alert, part 4: Walks can kill you. Betances bracketed a strikeout with walks. A fielder's choice moved the runners up, and then he allowed an RBI double to make it 3-2, with the tying run on 3rd.

Girardi brought in Adam Warren, and I figured this was another game that Girardi had blown with his pitching musical chairs. But Warren got a strikeout to end the threat. And Gregorius, clearly the man of the game, in whatever direction you want to suggest, got us an insurance run with his 15th home run of the season. Aroldis Chapman pitched a perfect 9th to close it out.

Yankees 4, Reds 2. WP: Montgomery (7-5). SV: Chapman (12). LP: Castillo (1-4). The Yankees have now won 4 of their last 5, and it really should be 5 in a row; while the Reds have lost 10 of their last 12.

Even better, the Boston Red Sox lost last night, so the Yankees close to within 1 game of 1st place in the American League Eastern Division -- and, because we have 4 games in hand on them, we are actually a game ahead of them in the all-important loss column!

This briefest of actual series, rather than a 1-game rainout makeup -- 2 games, most likely ending within 21 hours -- concludes with a matinee today, with Luis Severino starting for New York, and Homer Bailey, he of 2 career no-hitters but otherwise with a career record of just 59-56, for Cincinnati.

Then, tomorrow night, the Tampa Bay Rays come in for a 4-game series.

*

Hours until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 9, tonight at 9:30, in the Final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, against Jamaica, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, home of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. The U.S. had expected to play Mexico in the Final, but Jamaica pulled the upset.

Days until The Arsenal play again: 3, on Saturday, 11:20 AM our time, as they begin the 2-day Emirates Cup. Four teams, two doubleheaders. The early game on Saturday is Sevilla of Spain against Red Bull Leipzig of Germany, followed by Arsenal vs. Benfica of Lisbon, Portugal. The next day, Benfica play RB Leipzig, while Arsenal host Sevilla.

Days until the Red Bulls play again: 3, on Saturday night at 7:30, home to the Montreal Impact.

Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 11, a week from this Sunday, August 6, against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. They will next play the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, September 17, at at Red Bull Arena. They will next play the D.C. Scum on Saturday, September 27, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. They are not scheduled to play the New England Revolution again this season. The Red Bulls might make the Playoffs, but the Revs probably won't, so they almost certainly won't face each other again until next season.

Days until the Premier League season begins: 16, on Friday, August 11. A little over 2 weeks.
The Arsenal open the season at home to Leicester City, in a game moved back from the intending opening to suit British TV.

Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 16, on Friday, August 11, at Yankee Stadium. A little over 2 weeks.

Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 37on Friday, September 1, home to the University of Washington. A little over 5 weeks.

Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: 44, on Friday night, September 8, home to Sayreville, a "derby." A little over 6 weeks.

Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: 73on Saturday night, October 7, home to the Colorado Avalanche. A little over 10 weeks.

Days until the New Jersey Devils next play a local rival: 80, on Saturday night, October 14, against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in Midtown Manhattan. Their 1st game against the New York Islanders will be on Sunday, January 7, 2018, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn -- and they'll have played the Rangers 3 times by then. Their 1st game against the Philadelphia Flyers will be on Saturday, January 13, 2018, at the Prudential Center in Newark -- and they'll have played the Rangers 3 times and the Islanders once by then. This is a weird schedule. But at least we have it. The NBA usually doesn't release its new season's schedule until August.

Days until the Alex Rodriguez Contract From Hell officially runs out, and the Yankees can spend his salary on new players: 97, on October 31.

Days until the next election for Governor of New Jersey: 104, on Tuesday, November 7. A little over 3 months until we elect Phil Murphy, defeat Kim Guadagno, and end Christieism forever. But only if you vote!

Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: 108, on Saturday, November 11, at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.

Days until the next North London Derby: 115, on Saturday, November 18, at the Emirates Stadium. This game could be moved to the following day, for TV purposes.

Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving high school football game: 120, on Thursday, November 23, at 10:00 AM. A little under months, and thank God it's at home, at Jay Doyle's Green Grove, rather than at that purple shit pit on Route 9.

Days until the next Winter Olympics begins in Pyeongchang, Korea: 202, on February 9, 2018. A little over 6 months.

Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 323, on June 14, 2018. Under 11 months. Has Bruce Arena turned our chances around? Maybe. Or maybe, with the tournament on his soil, Vladimir Putin will tell his bitch Donald Trump to tell Bruce Arena to tank the games. Maybe not. Or maybe only if we end up playing Russia. I don't think Arena will listen. If he doesn't, I hope his life insurance is paid up, because Putin has had people killed for defying him.

Days until September 2018 roster call-ups, when we can finally start to expect seeing most of these wonderful "prospects" for whom Yankee general manager Brian Cashman threw away a chance at the 2016 Playoffs: 402. A little over a year, or a little over 13 months. Of course, Clint Frazier is already up, but we've hardly benefited enough to offset the cost of Andrew Miller. We could end up seeing another of them sooner than that, but since most of them are at Double-A Trenton now, if that, who's kidding who?

Days until the next Congressional election: 468, on November 6, 2018. Under a year and a half, or a little over 15 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: 532, on January 9, 2019. A little under a year and a half, or a little over 17 months.

Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: 897, on January 8, 2020. A little under 2 1/2 years, or a little over 29 months.

Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 1,102, on July 24, 2020. A shade under 3 years, or 36 months.

Days until the next Presidential election: 1,564, on November 3, 2020. Under 3 1/2 years, or a little over 39 months.

Days until Liberation Day: 1,642, at noon on January 20, 2021. A little over 3 1/2 years, or a little under 42 months. Note that this is liberation from the Republican Party, not just from Donald Trump. Having Mike Pence as President wouldn't be better, just differently bad, mixing theocracy with plutocracy, rather than mixing kleptocracy with plutocracy.

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